This is a really lovely little book. I had to remind myself several times that it was a true story.
Shu Wen leaves China to look for her husband of ju...moreThis is a really lovely little book. I had to remind myself several times that it was a true story.
Shu Wen leaves China to look for her husband of just 30 days whom she is told has been killed in Tibet. What follows is a 30 year search for her husband and the people she meets along the way. The story is extraordinary, and Shu Wen never gives up hope, in all those years, of finding her husband.
I devour all books about China and this was no different. Incredible story.(less)
Having realised that walking up my own house stairs had me almost passing out I decided to take up running (walking was a good start in my case) and w...moreHaving realised that walking up my own house stairs had me almost passing out I decided to take up running (walking was a good start in my case) and within 6 months I completed my first 10K. Passing that finnish line I was the proudest and most elated I have ever been in my life and it was then that I realised what this "buzz" people kept talking about was. I felt amazing!
Not long after this I picked up Paula Radcliffe's autobiography and was hooked. I started reading and became in awe of someone who was so dedicated to her sport and who was so disciplined that while I was out getting lashed at every available opportunity while at Universtity, at the same time in another town Paula was working doggedly towards getting her 1st class degree while still managing to train religiously in the sport she loved. To me - someone who was brand new to running and who finds it very difficult - Paula became an inspiration.
I do, however, agree with some other reviews that the writing wasn't the greatest but then she is an athlete not an author, and I did notice that there were several explanations as to why she thought she hadn't run her best (I hesitate to say excuses as I have found myself saying things like "I didn't have a great run today, my legs felt heavy" etc) and I admit that this sometimes bacame repetitive.
I would still recommend this book highly though, as whether you're new to running like me or a seasoned racer the fact is that Paula Radcliffe is still one of the greatest athletes that this country has ever produced and regardless of her written word talents, this should surely be celebrated. She is an inspiration to many and rightly so. I enjoyed this book very much and it certainly spurred me on so thank you Paula.(less)
I started reading this book fully expecting to be told the story of an unwanted child from a poor, probably rural, family and the hardships they all s...moreI started reading this book fully expecting to be told the story of an unwanted child from a poor, probably rural, family and the hardships they all suffered. I couldn't have been more wrong. Adeline Yen Mah is brought up in a very wealthy, well respected family in both Shanghai and Taijin, further north. She lived in big houses with servants and a Father who was an extremely clever business man. Sounds ideal, but that couldnt be further from the reality. Adeline was the last born of 5 children and her Mother died 2 weeks after she was born. Adeline has still never seen a photo of her Mother to this day. Not long after her Mothers death, her Father remarried a half Chinese, half French young woman who was to become her step mother and this is where her nightmare stars. The 5 step children are kept in a different part of the house and treated like second class citizens in their own home. Adeline, who was blamed for the death of their mother, is also bullied and beaten by her own siblings who constanly gang up on her. Her Father and Niang, the step mother, make Adeline's childhood a pure misery.
This story goes from Adeline's childhood in China to her time as a student in England and then her move to America. All the while she puts up with the awful treatment dished up by her family as sne is so desperate for love and acceptance.
A very sad true story and one that needs to be told. (less)
The only saving grace to this godawful book is that it only took me a day to read. What possessed me to buy it in the fisrt place is another matter en...moreThe only saving grace to this godawful book is that it only took me a day to read. What possessed me to buy it in the fisrt place is another matter entirely.
What a load of self-pitying, whining drivel this book is. Christopher Ciccone is nothing more than a name-dropping hanger-on with no backbone of his own. Case in point - page 241 - Christopher is worried because he has sent Madonna a vile, foul-mouthed fax where he vents about her lack of talent, old-age etc and it has just dawned on him what he has done: "As I ponder the professional repercussions, and my status in Hollywood, I know that I am fucked and have to somehow rectify the situation." Nice. Does he regret what he's done? Yes, but only because of how it will affect him: "I write a letter to Madonna in which I apologise profusely, although I don't mean a word of it".
Also, he moans about Madonna not flying him first class when she takes him all round the world on tour. Here's a thought - PAY FOR IT YOURSELF!
I can't bear to waste another moment on this peice of tripe.(less)
What a fascinating book this was. I expected to read about the true story of one of the most shocking crimes in 19th century England but I hadn't barg...moreWhat a fascinating book this was. I expected to read about the true story of one of the most shocking crimes in 19th century England but I hadn't bargained for also getting a fantastically written and hugely interesting social commentary of Victorian times and attitudes and behaviours with regards to the emergence of Police Detectives in this country.
Mr Whicher, the Detective called in to this particular case, was one of the first ever Scotland Yard Detectives which came with its own share of suspicion and mistrust. The case in question was of the murder of a 3 year old boy, one of several children of a well-to-do family in a country house in Wiltshire. In June 1860, the young boy was found to be missing from his cot in the morning and later that day his body was discovered (with his throat slit and a stab wound to his chest) down the servants toilet outside in the grounds. It soon became apparant that the purportrator was one of the people inside the house on that night (which consisted of the boys family, the nursemaid and housemaid). Whicher was called in to find out which one of the family murdered the three year old while the whole of England became obsessed with the drama, writing into the newspapers in their thousands offering their opinion on who committed the crime.
While I found the unravelling of this story fascinating in itself, I was also delighted to see so many references to some great Victorian authors inclduing Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. 1860 was also the year that the first victorian "sensational" novel was published and this appeared to feed the frenzy of the public. This particular case has also been reported to have been the basis for subsequent rather famous novels such as Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood , Collins' The Moonstone and Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret all of which contain themes from this particular story. Dickens (who was also an aquaintance of Mr Whicher) even wrote letters to Collins offering his theory on what took place that night.
This book is completely non-ficiton to point that only recorded conversations and facts are included (which seems to be the reason there are alot of negative reviews about it - perhaps it seemed too dry for some). And while this is more of a why-dunnit than a who-dunnit , there are still a few surprises along the way that caught me off-guard.
I thoroughtly enjoyed this book; infact I could barely put it down. Summerscale stuck to the facts without trying to sensationalise the story any more than it already was by putting words in peoples mouths and the result was a hugely enjoyable novel about a shocking crime and its repercussions in Victorian society. Highly recommended.(less)